The Not So Obvious - At one time, Athlon's Pac-10 was week's ahead of the other publications, but not anymore. All of the "Big Four" - Athlon, Street & Smith, Sporting News, and Lindy's - arrived almost in days of one another. Get to your favorite newsstand or bookstore and locate the sports magazine section and you'll find college football fanatics sinking into each book like they're studying for final exams.
The Obvious - While most publications have regional covers, USC fans will be delighted in seeing the covers of all four college football yearbooks which display precocious sophomore wide receiver Mike Williams in various poses.
The Not So Obvious - While Street & Smith showcases Mike Williams with a beautiful full cover shot, the Sporting News Yearbook provides a small, left forefront of Williams in front of a much larger duo of quarterbacks Cody Pickett of Washington and Andrew Walker of Arizona State.
The Obvious - There is much speculation in all the publications that the Trojans are only in need of an effective quarterback to make a serious bid at the national championship.
The Not So Obvious - While the Trojans' first opponent Auburn is ranked number one in the country by the Sporting News and the Oklahoma Sooners in the three others, the Trojans, considering that they lost Carson Palmer to that Sunday league, are ranked as high as 6th by Athlon and the Sporting News and as low as 15th by Street & Smith. Lindy's places Troy 8th nationally.
The Obvious - The Trojans, despite breaking in an entire new backfield, are also getting much "love" by three publications as their pick for the Rose Bowl.
The Not So Obvious - Lindy's, Sporting News, and Athlon have the Trojans heading down Colorado Blvd. on January 1, while Street & Smith has SC headed for third behind Washington and Arizona State. A third place finish would find the Trojans vacationing Dec. 31st for a 2:00 p.m. El Paso Sun Bowl. Of course, history does show that he that hath the best quarterback in the Pac-10 generally comes to Pasadena.
The Obvious - There is much debate by college football insiders and fans which publication is the best buy and the most accurate.
The Not So Obvious - The best publication is Lindy's edited by former Long Beach Press-Telegram ace Don Borst and Anthony Gimino. Borst is not only a former Best in the West editor, but has shaped Lindy's into the perfect blend of ranking, teams, and recruiting information, using Pac-10 beat writers (Scott "Sherlock" Wolf for USC), and SuperPrep's Allen Wallace and Prep Football Report's Tom Lemming for its numerous recruiting sections. A must buy if your "other half" allows you only one.
The Obvious - Street & Smith has made the biggest return from a long slumber in the college football publication graveyard after being the "big cheese" after decades of yearbook dominance with little competition.
The Not So Obvious - The biggest difference in Street & Smith for Pac-10 fans is that it has rid itself of Dwight Chapin, who had left the sports department several years ago and was doing news stories for one of San Francisco's daily papers, with the San Jose Mercury's respected Jon Wilner, a Pac-10 writer.
The Obvious - So, you want to buy one of the four publications, and ya want to know which is the best for the cheapest. Si?
The Not So Obvious - All four publications are asking for $6.99, so money is not the issue, unless you're buying in Canada. That Eh, will cost you a-boot $8.99 to read in the privacy of your own hooooose. No Dudley DoRight or Nell comments please, Snidley Whiplash.
The Obvious - Offensive tackle Jacob Rogers, once an incoming Trojan at tight end out of Oxnard High, is being touted as one of the nation's finest.
The Not So Obvious - Despite the fact that one NFL scouting service lists Jacobs as one of the future NFL Top 25 picks in next year's draft, the four publications can't agree where Jacob fits on their All-America teams. Athlon and Street & Smith list Rogers as a first unit selection, while Lindy's and the Sporting News don't even list Jacobs on any levels of All-America teams.
The Obvious - Trojan senior guard Lenny Vandermade has done a wonderful job of recovering from his season ending injury and figures to have a major impact on the now much the heralded USC line achieves.
The Not So Obvious - Perhaps shocking in a positive sense is that Lenny Vandermade made the Sporting News All-America second team despite his injury, while Jacob Rogers was not even mentioned. Good for Lenny, but leaving off the senior all-conference Rogers is the kind of stuff that hurts the credibility of these publications.
The Obvious - They say sex sells and Lindy's and Athlon figure if you had a few cheerleader "honey shots", it sure can't hurt the visual product nor the income.
The Not So Obvious - Lindy's provides Trojan fans with a little rise with the photo of the pretty Heather Assof, a junior majoring in business. Page 72 if you are in a rush. The "babes" in Athlon don't quite measure up the ladies in Lindy's, but you can judge for yourself.
The Obvious - All four magazine give some sort of recruiting coverage, and each does it to a different degree.
The Not So Obvious - The most attractive visual presentation is Street & Smith with veteran writer Doug Huff at the helm. S & S not only includes the usual info on this year's rising senior stars, but goes the extra mile with a junior list. For good measure, S & S also gives a preview of nation's Top 25 prep team, which includes California's Concord De La Salle, Los Alamitos, and Santa Ana Mater Dei. No Long Beach Poly. Holy Derrick Jones!!!
The Obvious - Pound for pound, many in the Pac-10 feel that junior outside linebacker Matt Grootegoed is one of the nation's finest at his position.
The Not So Obvious - The Grootogoed family will be pleased to know that "Missile Matt" is a third team All-America in both Street & Smith and Athlon."Groot's" continues to measure up to former Trojan and Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson, who calls the kid the Monarchs' best ever.
The Obvious - Each publication has tried to secure the services of a respected recruiting service to add to their package.
The Not So Obvious - The Sporting News has the least information in using Rivals; Athlon gives a better package but more slanted to last year's recruiting results; Street & Smith's Huff has a complete package; and the best overall stuff is again Lindy's. While the Sporting News, Athlon, and Street & Smith place their recruiting coverage at or near the back, Lindy's Borst smartly places their package near the front part of their publication.
The Obvious - After looking at all four publications, the best coverage for the Trojan fans is Lindy's Pac-10 Magazine with the Daily News' Scott Wolf providing the commentary.
The Not So Obvious - Much of the information for all these publications is decided by deadline, but Wolf includes information on Manuel Wright , John David Booty, and even Ashton White. Lindy's includes bio info on the No. 1 freshmen class, a spring roster with numbers, depth chart, and apparently Wolf's prediction that the Trojans' Most Valuable Player will be Matt Grootegoed, Emerging Star is tailback Hershel Dennis, and Top Newcomer is strong safety Darnell Bing.
The Obvious - Quarterback John David Booty, who will be part of the Elite 11 camp in Orange County during the summer, needs only to pass an English class to gain entrance into USC.
The Not So Obvious - You had to look long and hard to find mention of Booty in any of the four publications. Publications were not sure how to list him or where. One had him in a asterisk with this year's recruiting class, while most had him as a blip hidden in a note. Once Booty officially comes on board, look for all the national media machinery to start cranking.
The Obvious - Brad Budde is one of USC's all-time legendary offensive linemen, blocking for the likes of Marcus Allen and Charles White.
The Not So Obvious - Budde was recently the guest speaker at the Orange County All-Star Game banquet in Brea. Old No. 71 awed a crowd of about 400 with his "colorful" description of commitment to football, family, and desire. Budde gave a stunned group of Orange County all-stars the fire of a College Football and USC Hall of Famer.
The Obvious - Brad Budde, who coaches at San Clemente High under former Notre Dame star Eric Patton, has his son Beau as one of the South's quarterbacks for the July 11th Friday night game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
The Not So Obvious - Budde displayed the intense emotion of what USC offensive linemen were all about during the late 1970's. The wide eyes of future Orange County Trojans Chris Barrett and Sam Baker of Tustin and Fili Moala of Western gave one the impression that these three would have wanted nothing to do with having to go against Budde. In fact, Budde, now in his early forties, looked like he could have put on a uniform right now. He looked in great shape with that long black hair and those piercing blue eyes.
The Obvious - In his senior year, Brad Budde was not only USC's Offensive Player of the Year, but he was also his team's Most Inspirational Player and Academic All-American. The banquet's MC mentioned a legendary Budde block on UCLA tackle Manu Tuiasosopo, a vicious pancake block that was shown at the time repeatedly on ABC's national television coverage.
The Not So Obvious - Budde remembered that block and so did many of the older folks in attendance. In high school, Budde was an All-America two-way lineman out of fabled Kansas City Rockhurst. The Trojans are currently recruiting Rockhurst running back Tony Temple, who some feel may be that school's best ever player.
The Obvious - Defensive tackle Shaun Cody, who gave a wonderful taped interview for WeAreSC.com on his rehab, appears ready to regain his starting spot for what some are calling Wild Bunch ll.
The Not So Obvious - With Cody a pre-season All-America choice in the Sporting News, this probably will get the attention UCLA guard Eyoseph Efseaff, a pre-season third team AA selection by Street & Smith, who was eaten up badly by Cody at the Coliseum.
The Obvious - The Trojans and all sports fans lost a great one when the Times Mal Florence passed away.
The Not So Obvious - To those of us who knew this kind and witty gentlemen, the best comment would be they don't make his kind anymore. For young journalists who had a chance to talk and see him at work, Mal was truly one of the flowers in the sports garden.
The Obvious - Legendary Trojan tight end Charles Young has a son named Chancellor Young, who is being recruited by a number of schools out of Seattle O'Dea.
The Not So Obvious - In our neck of the woods, "Chancellor" Young was the 29 year chancellor of UCLA. Who knew? Now don't talk smack about Charles, his daughter attends Troy.
The Obvious - The Trojans are still trying to fill some spots in future schedules after the Temple contract release.
The Not So Obvious - Hey Mike Garrett, how about a trip to Madison, Wisconsin to play the Badgers in a home and home. Nothing quite like "Madtown" on a Midwest autumn afternoon. For those that have had the pleasure to be at a game at Camp Randall Stadium, it is a big giant parrrrrrrrrrrrty. After the game, they have one big celebration called "The fifth Quarter" sung to the Budweiser theme, and they do that hilarious chicken dance.
The Obvious - Kick-off times are being locked in for USC games and fans will certainly have a variety of times in which to plan their tailgate parties.
The Not So Obvious - The one game that caught the attention here was the October 11th game against the Stanford Cardinal. Starting Coliseum time, thanks to Fox Sport Net, is 7:00 p.m. When was the last time a Trojan Pac-10 game at home started THAT late? One game that comes to mind was 1969 when the Trojans came from behind as Lakewood's Ron Ayala hit on a thrilling 34-yard field goal with no time for a come-from-behind 26-24 victory.
The Obvious - So Trojan fans get a cardinal and gold break from the doldrums of summer thanks to the onslaught of football publications.
The Not So Obvious - Oh, and one last thing, did you know that Kenechi Udeze was listed as a second team All-American in the Sporting News and a third team selection in Athlon? Oh, we thought so. Excuse please, they tell me Phil Steele's College Football is coming out any day. Honey, do you have a ten spot I can borrow?